At the turn of the 19th century, although parts of the United Kingdom had police forces, early 19th century London, with a population of nearly one and a half million people, did not. London was policed by 450 constables and 4,500 night-watchmen from different organisations. Because they were governed by different powers, their effectiveness was weak, and each were critical of the other’s powers.

    However, although crime in London was rising, attempts by the government to set up a central police force for London was met with opposition. People were suspicious of a large force as they feared it could be used to suppress protest and support a military dictatorship. Also, Britain was at war with France from 1793 to 1815, so many people hated the idea of copying the French (who had an efficient police force) on principle. Another reason was that people believed it should be under local control and not the job of the government to set up and control a police force.

    The Mayor and Corporation of the City of London refused to be part of a London-wide force until the late 1820’s when Robert Peel became Home Secretary. He had already set up a force in Ireland and brought his ideas to the capital. The Metropolitan Police Act was passed in 1829'

    Item Description

    Although I’ve had truncheons before, this is by far the oldest and most unusual. Although it is in a worn condition, you can still clearly see some of the markings.

    The crown is visible at the top of the piece, painted in gold with a Lion rampant. Further down the shaft there is the Royal Cypher of either King George III or IV. The background colour of black to highlight the gold paint is quite worn on the back. Measuring 325 mm long.